Improve Your English and Your TOEFL Score at the University of San Diego

Intensive English Language Program

The Intensive English Language Program (IELP) at USD’s English Language Academy is designed to help non-native English speakers develop their English language skills, as well as acquire cultural knowledge in order to achieve personal, professional and academic goals.

Offered through USD’s English Language Academy (ELA), the IELP maintains a rigorous academic course of study, with a focus on essential core skills and TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language) test preparation.

One of the key advantages in attending the ELA is that placement tests are used to place students at different levels for each skill area (example: a student may be placed into Advanced Reading, High Intermediate Listening, Intermediate Writing, etc.). This provides each student with a more dynamic learning experience by having different teachers and students in classes.

ELA graduates have successfully enrolled in undergraduate and graduate programs at both USD and other American universities.

Benefits of the USD English Language Academy program

Program advantages include:

  • Skill-based student placement testing helps facilitate dynamic learning experience
  • Exit tests track progress achieved by each student
  • Small classes averaging 10 to 15 students, offering individualized attention and a strong connection with faculty
  • Highly qualified instructors with graduate degrees in English language teaching, enhancing the educational experience
  • The ELA provides assistance with various housing and accommodation options to include on and off campus housing or a homestay with an American family
  • Students of the English Language Academy are eligible to receive a University of San Diego Student ID card allowing access to the University's many facilities and services

Once students enter the program, they work with our experienced instructors to:

  • Develop and expand general English language skills
  • Increase academic vocabulary and strengthen grammar skills
  • Acquire reading and writing skills to aid in future university studies 
  • Communicate, socialize and network with greater confidence
  • Use engaging communication activities to significantly improve listening and speaking ability
  • Improve test scores in TOEFL and/or IELTS exams

Who Should Attend

The program is geared primarily toward international students who are interested in gaining admission to a U.S. university, or improving their English skills to achieve success in the global marketplace.

Note: The Intensive English Language Program also connects to an important opportunity for aspiring USD undergraduate students. If the Office of Undergraduate Admissions determines that you may be in need of strengthening select skills before beginning your undergraduate studies at USD, you may be admitted conditionally by way of the USD Pathway Program for International Students

The Pathway Program offers academically prepared international students the opportunity to become full-time, degree-seeking USD students through completion of an English language and college readiness curriculum, which is administered by the English Language Academy. 

Certificate Requirements

In order to receive an IELP certificate from the English Language Academy, students are required to complete:

  • A minimum of 18 hours of coursework per week, per Session
  • Coursework with an overall grade of C- (70%), or higher

Course Format

Courses are delivered in the classroom format at the English Language Academy (ELA), on the campus of the University of San Diego.


The structure of ELA’s Intensive English Program is as follows:

  • Fall and Spring Semesters:
    14 weeks each, split into two 7-week Sessions (Session A and Session B)
  • Summer Semester:
    10 weeks, split into two 5-week Sessions (Session A and Session B)
  • Hours of instruction per week:
    18 – 24


USD faculty and experienced practitioners provide a stimulating and participative learning environment. All instructors have earned a Masters degree or higher.


USD’s English Language Academy is a member of the American Association of Intensive English Programs (AAIEP) and Association of International Educators (NAFSA). Our Intensive English Language Program is accredited by CEA - the Commission on English Language Program Accreditation.

CEA Accredited EnglishUSA Accredited

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